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Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Pack

Women walking in Simms wader wearing a Simms Large Waypoint Sling Pack

Sling packs are a comfortable option for fly fishing packs


Picking a fishing pack can as daunting as buying a new car. The fly fisherman has many different makes, models, sizes and carrying positions of packs from which to choose.

We always ask:

  • Where do you want to have your weight distributed?…Front, Back, Hip, or Sling
  • Ease of accessing your gear. Chest packs are much more accessible – but can be in the way.

    Fly fisherman casting with an Umpqua Hip Pack.

    Having the right fly fishing pack can determine how your day goes.

  • How much gear do you want to carry? How many fly boxes, reel spools or rain gear etc.

These questions will get you headed in the right direction.

Which Is Best?

It used to be that everyone wore a fishing vest. When the chest pack arrived there was almost an immediate switch to the front mounted pack among guides because of ease of use. Average anglers soon adopted the chest pack too, but with mixed results. However many fishermen discovered that their chest pack was in the way as much or more than their old fishing vest.

The sling pack solved this issue for the most part. These packs slide easily over the shoulder to the angler’s back when he or she is fishing. This can be much more comfortable when casting and landing fish.

Which one is best for you? Well, that depends. I have three packs that I use. The first is my Simms Waypoints Large Sling Pack. The name says it all. I use it when guiding for trout. This pack large lots of room for “stuff”. “Stuff” being lots of extra accessories and large fly boxes. If you are a gear head and have to have one of every fly ever tied this is for you! Fishing with it on your hip is relatively easy and comfortable.

The next pack I use is the Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling.  This sling pack holds a ton of gear too. This is my fishing/hiking pack. It holds everything that I need for a day. The key difference is that the weight distribution is primarily on my back and the bulk is out of the way.   Sliding it over the shoulder is relatively easy, depending on how much gear you have in the storage portion of the pack. I can carry lunch, water and even an extra layer comfortably.

The final pack that I use is the one I probably use the most when I use a fishing pack. The Umpqua Tongass 650 Waterproof Waist Pack is small and comfortable to wear. The pack is one of the most comfortable waist packs that I have found. It holds enough flies and accessories that I don’t have to run back and forth to the boat or vehicle to get something that wouldn’t fit.

Most of us only need or can afford one fishing pack. The three things that are listed above are some basic parameters to begin your search for a pack. Choosing the right pack can determine the success of your fishing day, so don’t take it lightly.

Do Your Homework

There are several packs in my garage. Some were comfortable but couldn’t hold what I wanted. A couple got in my way when I tried to fish or land a fish. This trial and error is costly both in money, but also because of the time wasted on fishing trips that were negatively impacted by my fishing pack.

The resources to research your fishing pack purchase are vast. There are online reviews, product descriptions and all angles of photos that will help you make your decision easier. Remember you can always contact our gear experts at Stillwater Fly Shop to help you find just the right pack to make your trout, steelhead or saltwater fly fishing experience the best it can be.

Please Visit Us At Stillwaterflyshop.com  For All Your Fly Fishing Gear Needs!

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